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RHPS taps three for top accolades
Richmond Hill Primary School Principal Mary Ann Tiedemann, second from left, stands with Paraprofessional of the Year Kathy Giza, right, Teacher of the Year Vanessa Pillen and Paraprofessional of the Year Valencia Baron. Giza and Baron tied for top parapro. (Provided)

Three educators at Richmond Hill Primary School were pleasantly surprised earlier this week when they were given top accolades by their peers.

Vanessa Pillen was named Teacher of the Year, while Valencia Baron and Kathy Giza tied for Paraprofessional of the Year, and each called their new titles a true honor to hold. Their names will now go into the hats for Georgia Teacher of the Year and Paraprofessional of the Year, respectively.

“In a sea of teachers that are so passionate and selflessly dedicated to establishing a solid foundation for our young learners, it is the ultimate compliment to be nominated as the Teacher of the Year by my peers,” Pillen said.

Pillen, who has been teaching at RHPS just more than a year, said she felt overwhelmed and encouraged by the support from her fellow teachers and will remember the honor “for the rest of my days.”

Baron and Giza had similar reactions.

“It’s a great honor, and I did not expect it,” said Baron, who is in her fourth year at RHPS.

She added that it was hard to believe she was chosen from a group of paraprofessionals that all so do much for the children they teach. “We all work so, so hard.”

Giza, who is in her third year at RHPS, called the news “wonderful,” and said she felt both honored and humbled.

“There is nothing more gratifying than being recognized by your peers,” she said.

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